The baseball field for French Settlement High will now bear the name of one of the school’s most decorated coaches.
The Livingston Parish School Board approved a resolution to name the school’s baseball field the “Mark Holmes Field,” named after the highly-successful coach who guided the Lions for 20 years.
Holmes, a native of New Orleans, coached at French Settlement High for two decades until his retirement in 2010. On the diamond, Holmes led the Lions to 324 wins, nine district championships, four appearances in the state tournament, and one state runner-up finish.
Current French Settlement High Principal John Chewning — who played under Holmes for four years, including the first state tournament appearance in 2001 — presented the resolution to the board.
The board approved the resolution on a 7-0 vote. Two members were absent from the meeting.
“For the first time in my life, I don’t have something to say,” Holmes said before those in the room stood in applause.
Prior to coming over to FSHS, Holmes spent several years in the Watson area, at both Live Oak High and Live Oak Middle. During Holmes’ first three seasons as head coach at LOHS (1982-84), he took the Eagles to three consecutive district titles.
Holmes also spent five years at Live Oak Middle as either head football coach or head basketball coach.
He arrived at French Settlement in 1990, where he enjoyed his most success. The Lions went to the playoffs every year between 1998 and 2007, including a Class B State runner-up finish in 2002.
Holmes was named Louisiana Baseball Coaches Association Class B Coach of the Year in 2001.
All told, Holmes-led baseball teams won 376 games, 12 district titles, reached the quarterfinals in the playoffs six times, semifinals three times, and the championship game once.
“I've never really had one particular baseball philosophy,” Holmes said in a 2010 interview with The News. “We’ve had to adjust to the talent, something you have to do at a small school.”
During Thursday’s board meeting, Superintendent Joe Murphy got emotional when he talked about the impact Holmes had on his life, crediting Holmes and his wife Myra for pursuing a career in education.
“They are the reason I pursued education and got my degree and started on my path to where I am tonight,” Murphy said. “Mark and Myra, thank you so much. I am most appreciative.”
After being presented the honor, Holmes thanked his wife — “Nobody knows how tough it is to be a coach’s wife — before thanking Chewning, Murphy and the board. He then spoke of his time at French Settlement High, which upon retirement he described as “without a doubt” the best career move he made.
“When I went to French Settlement, I felt like I died and went to heaven,” Holmes said. “That is an incredible community. Great people, totally supportive. It wasn’t a job down there. It was really fun to be there.”